On the way back from the safari, in the desolate arid scrubland somewhere between the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater we stopped at Maasai village. We had seen and met Maasai, visible by their traditional red or blue checked shuka, all over Moshi. Most came to the city to find work, usually as guards. Johnny, our friendly but tough as nails hostel guard, was no exception. In Moshi, the Maasai weaved into everyday life and weren’t particularly intriguing.
However, In the stark and unforgiving environment along the dry plains, the differences in our way of life was striking. The Maasai don’t drink water, just cow’s milk and blood. They don’t eat vegetables, just meat from the animals they tend. They live without electricity and the closest water source is 2 kilometers away from village. I’d never be able to make it there.
Yet when we entered the village and met these Maasai we realized that we shared more similarities than differences. They value education. Our host was one of the sons of the chief and he explained that the money from their cultural tours paid for boarding school for the tribe. He spoke 4 languages including French and impeccable English. 28 is the typical age when a man marries, 25 for women — really no different then at home. They marry for love and throw big weddings where everyone gets drunk.
I walked away from our visit incredibly impressed by the Maasai. They’ve managed to preserve their customs and way of life in today’s globalized and ever-changing world. Their way of life may be basic but their priorities (family, community, education) are better than most.